The (Divorce) Hangover

"A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you" -- Margaret Atwood

“A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you” — Margaret Atwood

I’ve been in a hangover since I was 9 years old.

Not the kind of hangover that consequently occurs the next morning after finding comfort at the bottom of a glass the night before. No, this hangover is far worse and permanent. It’s the kind of hangover you get when you start to question if your greatest memories were lies, when everything good is a blur, when you can’t remember what went wrong and when the deleterious weight of reality starts to mentally change you. It paralyzes you; mentally and physically. It’s the divorce hangover and the side effects can have negative long-term effects on physical and mental health.

I know I was only 9 years old, but I vividly remember my many awkward social encounters shortly thereafter: my restless nights, the confusion which led to anger, my life had permanently changed. For nine years I was drunk; believing that everything was fine, that my parents were happy and that nothing could come between us. It wasn’t until the summer of 1999, that my drunkenness wore off and I was left to deal with the hangover.

By no means do I blame my parents for my problems that hatched as a result of the divorce. In fact, they’ve helped me with a lot of my problems. Plus, if they weren’t happy, who am I to force them to stay together because of my insecurities? Doesn’t everyone deserve to be happy? I absolutely love my parents, so much so that I wish they were still together. But that’s part of the hangover, wanting to go back to how things were before the pain. If you have experienced a divorce, I understand what you’re going through and it can get better.

My five part remedy that best helps me get through tough days is hanging with friends, keeping up communication with both families, listening to music – preferably cheerful and upbeat songs ­— exercise regularly and find a hobby that keeps you busy. Mine’s writing. I know this remedy sounds cliché, and it is, but it works. According to the Barna Group, a research and resource organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture, 33 percent of marriages end in divorce. This statistic is worrisome to me, because, if this rate stays constant, it means 1 out of 3 people will get a divorce. This means that nearly 9,900 of my fellow Jayhawks will get a divorce. I can’t help but to think which of my friends will fall into this statistic. I just hope it isn’t me.

Of course, I want to be optimistic and hope that the divorce rate decreases. Unfortunately, I feel in certain circumstances, it’s inevitable and there are no precautions that can be taken. There is no divorce shot that prevents divorce. There is no pill that makes the relationship better. It’s up to you.

According to a 2009 study by Linda Luecken at Arizona State University showed that a peaceful divorce resolution helped students stay healthy while a divorce that was never finalized and fully resolved caused a negative long-term effect on health. Furthermore, the students who kept in close contact with their father did better post-divorce than those with little or no contact. Luecken says anger and stress management are the biggest problems that divorcee kids face. The key is to find an effective relaxation method (see my five-part-remedy above and take a look at the five-steps that divorce parents make).

Luecken suggests controlled breathing or exercise. Also, students should change their state of mind by focusing on a pleasant aspect of life for 10 minutes. I agree with Luecken. I often wonder how my life would be if that summer day never came back in ’99. But then I stop, because this is where I’m supposed to be. This molded me into the person I am today. Maybe everything does happen for a reason, the good and the bad. Life is what you make it. It’s time to wake up and shake off the hangover, because today is a new day, a new you, a stronger you. Don’t you ever forget that. 


3 thoughts on “The (Divorce) Hangover

  1. Bryenn, thank you for writing this. As a divorced father of three little ones I appreciate your perspective here. It really helps me understand more how they might be feeling or might one day feel as a result of their mother and I divorcing.

    1. Sage, thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad that my perspective can help you during this rough transition. I want you to know that getting a divorce doesn’t make you a bad parent, not even the slightest. What’s ironic about a divorce is it can, and most likely will, bring your family closer — your three kids and you. Stay positive and good luck.


      1. Thank you so much for your comment. I believe my relationship with my kids, since the divorce, has improved greatly. They know how much I love them and we make our time(s) together count. Thank you so much for the encouragement, you’re a pretty amazing young man! I hope my sons and daughters can have an impact on other people going through this someday too!

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